Legendary venture capitalist Tom Perkins conducted an interview with Bloomberg television on Monday to explain his controversial opinion that the rich in this country are being “threatened” by haters.
The controversy began on Sunday when the Wall Street Journal published a letter from Perkins in which he likened the anger toward the rich to what the Jews endured in Nazi Germany during “Kristallnacht,” one of the first raids on Jews at the start of the Holocaust.
Perkins is 82 and a multimillionaire thanks to the venture capital firm he founded, Kleiner Perkins, which has funded many huge tech companies like Amazon, AOL, Compaq, Genentech, Google, and Netscape.
In his interview on Monday, he apologized for using the word Kristallnacht, but stood by the sentiment of his letter: that the rich are a “minority” being unfairly “demonized.”
He said he believed his co-founder, Eugene Kleiner, who had “fled Hitler from Austria and fought in the US Army” would have “understood my Wall Street Journal letter and would have agreed with the warning.”
He said the rich are not to blame for the nation’s rising income disparity. He called them the “creative 1 per cent.”
He believes the blame lies with government taxes and regulation and that solution is to let the “rich get richer by creating opportunities for others.”
When asked if he understood the frustrations of the 99% he said:
“Of course I do. I — I have members of my own family that are living in trailer parks. Not my immediate family, but relatives.”
He admitted he wrote the letter because of a public spat between his ex-wife, Danielle Steel, and the San Francisco Chronicle over the massive hedge surrounding her 55-room French chateau in the middle of the city.
“I thought since I’m a knight, I’m a literal knight of the kingdom of Norway, I would get on my horse and charge forth in her defence.”
He also joked about being called the King of Silicon Valley saying:
“I certainly have enough arrogance to be royal.”
He explained that Silicon Valley’s indulgent tech culture, sometimes caused a tech bubble, is justified.
“It’s a bubble that has .. created incredible wealth around America and around the world. And maybe you have to put up with a little techno geek arrogance … to get the results of those sort of folks’ thinking.”
He discussed his own indulgences, too, saying he had an “underwater aeroplane” and an extremely expensive watch:
“This isn’t a Rolex. I could buy a six pack of Rolexes for this, but so what?”
He also expressed displeasure with the firm he founded for not standing by his letter to the Wall Street Journal.
“My letter was not about Kleiner Perkins. … They didn’t need to say anything, but they chose … to sort of throw me under the bus.”
“I think as I’ve distanced myself from the firm there’s been a corresponding decline in the firm.”
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